The Digital Photo Guy

Off Topic – Credit/Debit Card Security

by on Mar.31, 2010, under Monday Morning Tips

Card Skimmers Hit New Highs (Lows) in Sophistication

Another off-topic article but the following stories (links) amazed me. My wife and I were fooled two years ago by a credit card skimmer at a Walmart in Idaho. At the time, we berated ourselves for not being more observant. Would you have noticed something was wrong with the card readers below?

The second photo looks like a bulky, obvious device but the third photo shows how it blends in when installed. Can you spot it? (Clicking the thumbnails will take you to Mikko Hypponen’s Twitter page, use your Back key to return here.)

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic   Share photos on twitter with Twitpic   Share photos on twitter with Twitpic 

How can you protect yourself from these sleazy scammers? First and foremost, tap, yank, push or otherwise whack the card reader and/or keypad to see that it’s firmly attached. Scammers don’t have a lot of time to install these things so a good wallop should dislodge fake devices. Don’t worry about damaging the card readers, they’re designed to withstand a lot of public abuse. Second, look for pinhole cameras. Scammers want your PIN and the easiest way is to record you entering it. You may not see a lens but any hole or opening aimed at the keypad area should be suspect. While you’re at it, completely cover the keypad as you eter your PIN. Finally, try to use machines installed inside although that may not always be possible. It’s not as convenient but neither is hassling with your bank to recover hundreds or thousands of dollars stolen from your credit/debit card.

The following articles will open your eyes. Also, search the Web for “credit card skimmer”, that may cause you to go all cash.

Brian Krebs, former Washington Post reporter turned computer security expert
Another Brian Krebs article
Consumerist web site article

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

A former student sent an e-mail about HDR (High Dynamic Range) using Photoshop CS3. I previously tried HDR tools in PS and decided that there are easier ways. Here’s a video from last year that covers DP-HDR from MediaChance. I think it’s the easiest ways for most amateurs to produce HDR. At just $55, it’s a pretty cost effective tool.

When capturing images for HDR, remember 3 key tips: First, always, always use a tripod. This should be a no-brainer. Second, only adjust your exposure by changing shutter speed. Changing aperture causes depth of field to change which results in blurry HDR. Finally, take 3 to 5 exposures with, at least, 1 stop between each frame.

FREE Webinars – Topaz Labs and LensRentals

Wednesday, April 7 at noon CDT, Eric Yang of Topaz Labs will conduct a free webinar to demonstrate new features of Topaz plug-ins. There are only a few seats left. Click HERE to register.

Saturday, May 15 at 11AM CDT, Roger Cicala, CEO of will present a free webinar on everyone’s favorite topic – gear. Hear what Roger says about the 3000 lenses he has in inventory and what’s best for amateurs. Click HERE to register.


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